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Field Music - Making A New World (Album Review)

Monday, 13 January 2020 Written by Jacob Brookman

Field Music’s seventh studio LP is the Sunderland band’s self-described first ‘legitimate concept album’, which grew out of a project with the Imperial War Museum.

It’s a 19-track song cycle on the post-first world war period, peppered with lyrical themes that one wouldn’t necessarily associate with one another: gender reassignment surgery, air traffic control and the development of sanitary towels. These themes interact with varying degrees of effectiveness and immersion.

High points include the memorable Best Kept Garden—which lands somewhere between Arcade Fire and Metronomy—with its squawking riffs, complex rhythms and nimble arrangement. It sets a high watermark for the musicality to come, with elegant vocal blend and chords that consistently inspire curiosity.

Between Nations is also a cool and reflective composition, arriving effortlessly between I Thought You Were Something Else and A Change of Air.

The track revolves around a metronomic organ chord, which soon begins to sprawl into a spacey drama amid ephemeral, confusing words: “I thought that no-one would resist the urge to live and leave behind / That no elaborate machinery would be required to keep a peace between.”

In certain ways, though, the lyrics are the weak link on an album that is frequently thoughtful, detailed and musically innovative. Too often, tracks come and go without landing a distinct poetic punch and, upon further inspection, the storytelling of the record is difficult to disassemble, despite the interesting concepts. 

That lack of narrative needn’t be a problem, of course, as concept albums don’t need to have a cogent storyline (they don’t *need* anything, except possibly a concept). But it does make for discombobulating listening. This may be part of the point, but the best concept albums—think Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ or the Mars Volta’s ‘De-Loused in the Comatorium’—manage a far more tangible degree of conceptual cogency and immediacy. 

It doesn’t often feel like this record sounds like the world which it represents. Instead it sounds like a project by an indie band…which it is. 'Making a New World' doesn’t really take you on a journey despite, or possibly because of, its intellect. It has too much brain and not enough guts.

Field Music Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sat February 01 2020 - GLASGOW Kelvingrove Art Gallery
Fri February 21 2020 - NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
Sat February 22 2020 - LEEDS Brudenell Community Room
Thu February 27 2020 - WHITLEY BAY Playhouse, Whitley Bay
Fri February 28 2020 - MANCHESTER Dancehouse Theatre
Sat February 29 2020 - LONDON EartH

Click here to compare & buy Field Music Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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